Time is flying by. To date I have already completed; Culinary fundamentals, first year baking, line cooking, cold kitchen (Garde Manger), and am now in my last unit of the semester, which is vegetables and starches. Not blogging as much as I thought I would because I am simply too busy. I will say I am having so much fun, and I’m learning a lot. A huge range of things. Some things that make me laugh too. For example, in line cooking class when I was the chef of the day on line, one my classmates asked me how many steak “all day” we had. I stopped and looked at him like he was crazy. “How many steaks all day? What are you talking about?” Turns out that in industry, “all day” is simply a way of asking how many steaks we have on order, that have yet to be prepared.
For our cold kitchen class we got to go downtown to the Culinary Campus. This facility is amazing. All the highest quality kitchen equipment, and only 3 years old. It was an incredible environment to learn in. If you are in Calgary, stop in there some time for lunch. The food prepared by the chef instructors and the students is delicious. You can also take cooking classes there. You might even see me! I have signed up to work quite a few of them.
In our cold kitchen class we learned about the role and responsibilities of those working the Garde Manger section of the kitchen. We made a lot of salads and sandwiches. We made hors d’oeuvres, Sushi, dressings like mayonnaise and vinaigrette. Learned how to shuck oysters. We had cheese, oil and vinegar tastings, and we had a practical exam where we had to create our own salad. The criteria was that is had to be a composed salad (two or more ingredients arranged on the plate), dressed with a dressing we made, garnished appropriately, and appetizer sized. Our salads had to be presented within one hour from start time.
I’m super proud of my salad. I put a lot of thought into it and even tested it out at home, on my husband. On the day of the exam I got my salad prepared and on the table with 15 minutes to spare. Then we had to wait. Chef was not tasting the salads until we left, and then would give us our marks on the following Monday.
Come Monday morning I was so excited to hear that my salad won. Scored the highest mark. Chef said that she thought it was delicious, well balanced, plated beautifully and one of the best salads she has ever tasted at the culinary campus. The ultimate compliment though, she also said that it was a salad that she would happily pay for over and over again.
- Cucumber 100g
- Fennel 80g
- Red Onion 40g
- Radishes 2
- Fresh Dill
- White Wine Vinegar 30ml
- Grapeseed Oil 90ml
- Honey 15ml
- Dijon Mustard
- Lemon Juice TT (half lemon)
- Lemon Zest
- Goat Cheese 90g
- Slivered Almonds 24g
- White Sugar
- Cut the top off the fennel and cut the bulb in half. Remove the tough core.
- Thinly slice fennel, cucumber, red onion and radishes. Try to keep the thickness of each, all the same. You can use a mandolin for this, if you like. Put all ingredients in a bowl with some fresh cut dill.
- Put a little bit of Dijon mustard, and the honey in a bowl. Whisk the vinegar in, until the honey and Dijon have incorporated. Slowly add your oil, a little bit at a time, until your vinaigrette starts to emulsify. Add lemon juice to taste, as well as some salt or extra honey, if desired.
- Pour vinaigrette into the bowl with your salad ingredients. Toss lightly to coat. Cover and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Put your sugar and almonds in a pan and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the almonds toast slightly. Set aside to cool.
- Crumble the goat cheese and add lemon zest and a little bit of fresh cut dill.
- Once salad has marinated. Portion out and top with your goat cheese and toasted candied almonds.
- This recipe will yield two appetizer sized salads. Adjust accordingly for more portions.